As France's foremost region for raw materials for fragrances and flavours, the Grasse area produces half of the country's aromatic ingredients. Two of the world's top ten companies, Mane and Robertet, both family-owned, continue to invest heavily in their production facilities. The world-renowned, local expertise attracts major international manufacturers such as Cargill and International Flavors & Fragrances, who source their ingredients from a wealth of SMEs with invaluable knowledge. A hi-tech ecosystem ensures the industry's vertical development, from plant cultivation to end uses on the cosmetics, flavours and fragrances, detergents and agri-food markets. After Cosmo International Fragrances, the Indian company Associates Allied Chemicals opened an office in Grasse in 2012, while Louis Vuitton Malletier is planning to open a perfume creation workshop in the region in 2014.


A powerful sector

Traditional expertise throughout the value chain

Emerging in the 16th century as a result of the fashion for scented gloves, the flavours and fragrance industry has evolved through a process of vertical integration. From the traditional cultivation of scented plants, the activities in the Grasse area have grown to include the manufacture of ingredients and the formulation and composition of finished products such as perfumed toiletries, detergents and food products and supplements.

The Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region is France's leading producer of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAP).  This production is based on age-old tradition and nearly 3,000 producers growing 80 species of medicinal and aromatic plants representing a turnover in the region of €40 million.

An unparalleled concentration of companies producing aromatic ingredients and resolutely focused on export (70%) account for over half of French production and 8% of worldwide turnover.

These aromatic ingredients target four key markets, with strong growth potential: alcoholic perfumery, cosmetics, detergents and agri-food products.

A network of service companies working in phytosanitary products, toxicology tests, analytical chemistry, etc. and which market the products offered by the sector's companies completes the ecosystem.


© PASS Cluster 

90% of the business in the world's perfume capital, Grasse is dedicated to luxury goods and cosmetics. The Grasse area remains France's major industrial centre for the production of raw materials for flavours and fragrances. A sector showing significant growth with +6.1 % in turnover in 2012, +10.2 % in export and +3.3 % in employment.

The skill base, from the extraction of raw materials to the creation of fragrance compositions or the production of sweet and savoury food flavours, attracts the world's leading perfume, cosmetics and agri-food companies, forming a particularly efficient ecosystem.


A wealth of companies with invaluable expertise

From small producers to famous names

Backed by an exceptional concentration of aromatic and medicinal plant growers, the family-run distilleries that built the reputation of the Grasse area have become international success stories. Mane (7th) and Robertet (10th) are two of the world's leading companies in the fragrance and flavours sector, according to the Leffingwell & Associates ranking.  They rely on a network of international subsidiaries with R&D centres and production facilities, while pursuing a strong investment policy designed to increase their production capacity in the Grasse area. Alongside them, other companies typical of the fine chemistry industry in Grasse include Charabot, IFF Monique Rémy and Payan Bertrand.

A specialist and highly-qualified workforce which boasts world-famous designers, researchers developing new processes, expert technicians in flavours and fine chemistry, has brought major international manufacturers to the area, such as the American Cargill and IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances), and the Swiss Firmenich. Following the creation of US company Cosmo International Ingredients' R&D laboratory in 2011, the Indian company Associates Allied Chemicals (AAC) began supplying aromatic raw materials in Grasse in 2012. Louis Vuitton Malletier, a subsidiary of LVMH, has also chosen Grasse as the location for its perfume creation workshop, set to open in 2014.

Other uses are also illustrated through a particularly rich range of dynamic companies in the perfumes and cosmetics sector. Laboratories such as those owned by Lancaster, So.f.i.a Cosmétiques and Biocyte have developed specialities in cosmetics and dermatology. Finally, there is an abundance of SMEs/SMIs offering expertise in sweet and savoury food flavours and fragrance compositions, used by the major detergent manufacturers, among others. Packaging manufacturers like Tournaire supply businesses with the hi-tech equipment and packaging they need for their business.

A dedicated ecosystem

Grasse, an internationally-recognised reference centre of expertise

There are three principal bodies driving the cosmetics, flavours and fragrances sector:

  • Prodarom, the national union of aromatic product manufacturers.
  • Cosmed, an association bringing together the SMEs/SMIs in the cosmetics industry.
  • The PASS (Perfumes, Aromas, Scents, Flavours) Competitiveness Cluster which unifies all those involved in the value chain. PASS has created an emplyment and trade portal, PASS-REL, which lists training courses and helps with recruitment within the industry.

Faced with growing demand for natural ingredients, Grasse has today positioned itself as a global centre of expertise for natural products, from extraction to plant transformation including new product development and quality control. The project is supported by the PASS Cluster, since one of its strategic priorities is the development of "sustainable chemistry".

The "Espace Jacques Louis Lions", located on a former industrial site, hosts:

  • A Professional Masters Programme in fine chemistry FOQUAL (training, analysis, quality) which complements the region's specialist university and professional courses (The European University of Flavours and Scents, Sophia AgroBioTech, ASFO Grasse, etc.)
  • ERINI, a shared technology platform for analytical chemistry
  • The Innovagrasse business incubator, which can cater for around thirty entrepreneurs
  • The new, 8-hectare Aromagrasse technology park, which accomodates the sector's businesses

For 15 years, Grasse has invited the decision-makers from the cosmetics and perfume industry to the international pioneering event, Centifolia.

The Fragrances, Aromas, Scents and Flavours Cluster (PASS)

The aim of the PASS Cluster is to develop the international competitiveness of a sector of excellence (fragrances, flavours, cosmetics and agri-aromatic products) in Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur.  It represents:

  • 154 members: companies, laboratories and training bodies, representing 7,800 employees
  • 2 platforms and 58 approved R&D projets worth 88 million euros including nearly 18.3 million euros of public funding.
  • 9 accredited training courses, and the creation of a new food safety training option (Master Polytech)
  • Projects at all innovation stages: incremental innovation, major scientific breakthroughs, fundamental research, training.

Source: PASS Cluster

7 reasons to choose the Cote d'Azur for cosmetics, flavours and fragrance companies

  • The recognition and reputation of the leader perfume cluster
  • A tradition for aromatic production dating back to the 16th century which has fuelled the sector's highly-specialised downstream expertise
  • A wealth of unrivalled expertise and techniques in the field of fragrances, food flavours and fine chemistry, but also specialist skills in business and international marketing
  • A powerful ecosystem with solid foundations in Grasse, the world's perfume capital
  • The proximity of Sophia Antipolis and Nice with complementary skills based around life sciences
  • A strategic location at the centre of the Latin Arc offering exceptional air access to the entire European and Mediterranean market
  • Attractive business sites in a magnificent region with a universally popular lifestyle

The fragrance and cosmetics industry in Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur

Fragrance industry (Grasse):

  • 70 establishments
  • 3,800 direct jobs and nearly 13,000 indirect jobs
  • 55% of national aromatic ingredients production
  • 730 million euros in turnover (est.), 70% from export

Medicinal and aromatic plants sector (PACA and southern Haute Provence region):

  • 70 companies
  • 800 jobs

Cosmetics industry (PACA):

  • 200 companies
  • 55% of national cosmetics and perfumes production
  • Over 500 jobs

Source : PASS Cluster